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Greek Word Study - Peace

Several years ago Wallace Wartick called my attention to something wonderful in the O.T. background of the word “peace.” The Hebrew word shalom (shah LOAM) meant far more than the mere absence of war. Shalom meant the well-being that comes from God: security, health, freedom from care, contentment. It included everything given by God in all areas of life, everything that makes for a man’s highest good. Thus, in Egypt when Joseph asked his brothers about the well-being of their father, his words were, “Is it shalom with the aged father of you?” (Gen 43:27).

The Hebrew shalom, which occurs more than 250 times in the O.T., is almost invariably translated in the Greek Septuagint by the word eirene (ay RAY nay). While in classical Greek eirene normally meant “peace” as the mere cessation of war, the O.T. background brought it to the New Testament with a much richer, deeper meaning.

Peace is the spiritual well-being we have because we are justified by faith, not by depending on our own goodness (Rom 5:1). This “prosperity of the soul” was announced by the angels (Luke 2:14) and delivered by Jesus (John 14:27). The true nature of peace is seen in the company it keeps: “glory, honor, and peace”; “life and peace”; “peace and joy”; “grace and peace”; “love and peace shall be with you.”

No fewer than six times in the N.T. God is called “the God of peace.” When God’s Spirit brings His harvest in our hearts, love and joy is followed by peace. This peace is ours for the asking. Peace which replaces anxiety, peace which transcends understanding, is only a prayer away (Phil 4:6-7). May the peace of God -- and the God of peace -- be with you!